Problem-solving is at the very heart of programming. Coders don’t become great at what they do by just memorizing a bunch of algorithms and expressions. They excel at programming when they learn how to use it as a tool to resolve real-world problems.
But how does any future developer improve their problem-solving skills? Well, there’s no shortcut or magic potion – they have to practice every day.
Of course, it is going to take months and months of everyday exercise. So, aspiring students may want to consider turning to writing services like essayservice to make room for real-world problem-solving in their schedule. Chances are, this self-facilitated practice will end up being a lot more useful than homework later on.
The good news is, practise doesn’t have to bore you to death. It doesn’t have to be detached from your daily life, either. Think about your day-to-day activities. Which boring manual tasks take up your time unnecessarily? Once you have a list, ponder how you can automate those. Once again, consider using https://essayservice.com/analytical-essay-writing-service for most of your academic tasks. Such writing services are great at taking care of your assignments.
Here are 5 ideas of how you can apply your programming skills to improve your day-to-day life. Let it jumpstart your brainstorming session.
Automate Data Entry Tasks
Even though we live in the 21st century, data entry jobs still exist. Think about it: there’s an occupation – albeit low-paid – that is dedicated solely to copying and pasting or reentering data into a new document. How crazy is that?
Unfortunately, you don’t even have to work in that field to know the pain of having to manually copy and paste dozens or hundreds of pieces of information.
Whether the data itself is available online or stored in one or multiple local files (PDF, DOC, XLS, etc.), there’s an easy way to automate data entry. Python allows writing a crawler script that would gather the needed parameters and add them to a new file.
Autofill Online Forms
Filling out online forms is a part of everyone’s life now. Whether you apply for loans, fidelity programs, or extra classes, you can’t avoid them – they are everywhere.
So, why not figure out how to automate the process with a custom script? You’ll be saving yourself some time and energy in the process, too.
Think about creating a small database with the most commonly asked information. Most likely, it’ll at least include your:
- Full name,
- Date of birth,
- Email address,
- Postal address.
Then, write a script to autofill the fields with this information. Done!
Schedule Repetitive Tasks
Forget about reminders for regular tasks – you can schedule them right on your computer. They’ll be automatically executed when the time comes, without your direct involvement.
What kind of tasks are to be scheduled depends on your needs, of course. Here are just a few ideas:
- Backing up your files;
- Sending reminder emails;
- Scheduling tweets;
- Posting a ‘Happy Birthday’ message on your Facebook friends’ timeline.
Improve Your Favorite Open-Source Program
Chances are, you’re already using one or several open-source programs. Think about your experience with them. Is there something missing? Or, maybe, there’s something that could’ve been executed in a more convenient or efficient way?
Here are 5 basic ways how you can make it better:
- Write a plug-in to integrate it with other software;
- Add a new feature that has already made you think, “It’d be so great if I could do it!”;
- Optimize software performance to make it run faster and/or use resources more efficiently;
- Make the interface or workflow more user-friendly;
- Fix a bug that’s been bugging you (pun intended).
Once you settle on the app itself and what you have to offer, check its GitHub and/or SourceForge repositories. Do your research on how contributions are accepted. Contact the support community or original developer(s) if needed.
The good news is, some small project developers would even be open to the idea of mentoring an aspiring coder. So, even if you are not 100% confident in your programming skills yet, this experience will boost your learning.
Make Queuing More Efficient
Ever heard of the bank teller problem? In case you haven’t yet, this is one of the most basic tasks in the queueing theory. If there are several bank tellers, is it more efficient to have one general queue or all of them or for each teller?
On top of this setup, there’s a long list of variables that can be added and tweaked. They include varied service time, the number of arriving customers during different hours, the number of tellers themselves.
Use the Monte Carlo method to find the most efficient ways to organize the service under different circumstances.
Now, what’s the use of it in everyday life? Well, it applies to any domain of it where a waiting line is involved: banks themselves, supermarkets and shops, libraries, railway stations, call centers, and even traffic.
Of course, banks won’t let you fool around with their operations (yet). But imagine having to organize a fair-type event with several stands: you’d be applying the same queuing theory principles.
In Conclusion: 6 Steps from a Problem to the Solution
Of course, this list has skimmed over the most obvious ideas on applying programming skills in everyday life. Software is everywhere these days, and so are practice opportunities for future developers.
So, don’t limit yourself to the ideas listed above. Instead, go through your day as usual and point out which tasks can be automated and which problems need solving.
Then, once you’ve determined the problem, how do you bridge the gap between it and the solution? Here are six steps for software developers to follow through during the problem-solving process:
- Understand the problem itself. Do your research on it and its potential or existing solutions. If you don’t fully understand what the program should do and how, how could you possibly write it?
- Determine what input and output is required;
- Divide the problem into smaller chunks (sub-problems);
- Design the algorithm and map it out in a flowchart or write pseudocode (the step-by-step description of what the code should do);
- Keep the inputs simple at first and incrementally make them more complex;
- Be rigorous about testing the code: use different inputs, check its efficiency, performance, and readability.